Sympetrum (Tarnetrum) corruptum
(Variegated Meadowhawk)

Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order Description:
Family: Libellulidae
Family Description: Meadowhawk

   Naiad- This is a small naiad with a maximum length of 3/4 inch (19 mm). It is mottled green and brown in color, and the abdomen is marked along the top with a pair of stripes. While the naiads of many dragonfly species are equipped with hooks and/or spines on the abdominal segments, the naiads of this species may have only one tiny, rear-facing spine on each side of abdominal segment eight or else no hooks or spines at all.
   Adult- This is a small to medium-sized dragonfly (but large for this genus) with a length of 1 5/8 to 1 11/16 inches (39 to 42 mm). The abdomen is quite slender. Mature males have a base color of dark brownish black. Each side of the thorax may be marked with a pair of yellow spots. The abdomen is marked with an eye-catching pattern of red, pink, and golden brown. The leading edges of the wings have pinkish wing veins. Mature females are marked similarly but with less red. Immature males and females are much paler in color and are mottled with pale green, pale yellow, golden brown, and orange. The leading edges of the wings have brownish or "regular" (non-colored) veins.

This species is found from British Columbia east to Ontario, extending south through much of the U.S. to southern California east to Florida. It migrates as far south as Honduras in Central America, and also occurs in eastern Asia. It occurs throughout Idaho except at the highest elevations.

This dragonfly can be found near ponds and lakes.

Adult Flight Season:
Early May to mid-September

   Naiad- Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat very small fish and tadpoles.
   Adult- The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, small moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites.

The naiads are found in debris on the bottom of lakes or ponds. They do not actively pursue prey but wait for it to pass by, a strategy which affords them protection from other predators. Naiads emerge as adults at night. Adults generally fly from early May to mid-September. Hunting occurs from perches on rocks or bare branches. The Latin name for this genus, Sympetrum, means "with rock" and refers to their habit of basking on rocks to absorb heat early in the day. This species is often seen in migratory swarms traveling south in the fall, along with the Common Green Darner (Anax junius) and the Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata). Those traveling south in the fall are usually immature, while those that appear in Idaho in the spring are usually mature. It was previously believed that the mature Variegated Meadowhawks appearing in the northern states in the spring had over-wintered there, but it is now believed that they emerged further south and migrated north. It is not known if there are resident, non-migratory populations in Idaho. This species is not seen in October in Idaho, as are many other members of this genus. Those observed in August and September are almost always immature, which suggests that they leave the area soon after emerging.

The female flies with the male still attached after mating (a position called "in tandem") and lays her eggs in lakes and ponds by dipping the tip her abdomen on the surface of the water.

Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S?

Corbet, P. S. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 829pp.

Logan, E. R. 1967. The Odonata of Idaho. Unpublished M. S. thesis. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA, 105 pp.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall. 1955. Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, Berkely, California, USA, 615 pp.

Paulson, D. R. 1999. Dragonflies of Washington. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington, USA, 32 pp.

Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1975. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. III. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 307 pp.

Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Photos by Dennis Paulson, 2001
Design by Ean Harker, 2001.